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Covid-safe activities have been hard to come by lately, but wild swimming has been a haven for nature lovers.
David Beckham, singer Ed Sheeran and Bake Off host Prue Leith have inspired us all to dive into icy waters in the countryside.
While they’ve installed lavish ‘status lakes’ on their estates, there are countless rivers and lakes for us to dip our toes into for free.
Wild swimming is the perfect way to get back in touch with the natural world, keep fit and even introduce little ones to the joys of swimming.
Researchers at Delamere Health say it can reduce stress, increase happy hormones, lessen inflammation in your body and benefit your immune system.
Before you dive in, check the current, depth and water temperature and try not to swim alone.
Here are some of our favourite spots across the country…
Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye
There really is something truly magical about this beauty spot.
Nestled at the foot of the Black Cuillins near the village of Carbost in Glenbrittle, the crystal clear pools are fed by a series of fresh spring waterfalls cascading down the hillside.
Make your way from the carpark along the 2.4km gravel pathway bordered by grass, rocks and heather – and brave the chilly waters if you dare. A wetsuit is advisable!
There are toilet facilities at the nearby Glenbrittle Campsite & Cafe, where a warming hot chocolate also awaits.
Llynnau Mymbyr, Snowdonia
If you like your wild swim with a side order of mountain air then this is the one for you.
The Snowdon Horseshoe, a ring of rugged ridges including the peaks of Grib Coch, Crib y Ddysgl, Snowdon and Lilwedd, provides a spectacular backdrop to a refreshing summer dip in the twin lakes.
Also known as Capel Curig Lakes, they stretch for 3/4 mile and have a maximum depth of 30 feet. Novice swimmers should take extra care, as there’s no lifeguard supervision.
Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall
The 1930s part natural part man-made tidal swimming pool, or lido, set in the rocks at Summerleaze Beach is now one of the UK’s last remaining tidal pools still open and free for public use.
A wide sandy bay and the presence of lifeguards in the summer months make it a magnet for families.
Beware the ever changing depth though and avoid diving in – the Atlantic Ocean waves wash in twice a day, refreshing the water, but also bringing in sand and stones.
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Stainforth Force, North Yorkshire
With the pretty chain of waterfalls, ancient packhorse bridge and grassy banks for picnicking on, there’s something for everyone at the popular site just outside Settle on the River Ribble.
Dive or leap from a rope swing into the deep cauldron of water below the largest cascade or paddle in the peaty waters of the smaller, shallow pools.
Parking is limited but you can walk there across the fields from Stainforth village.
During the autumn months, visitors come to watch salmon leap up the falls on their way to their spawning grounds.
Linhope Spout, Anwick, Northumberland
Nestled in the heart of the Northumberland National Park, the sight of the spectacular waterfall tumbling 60ft down a rock face into the ‘bottomless’ plunge pool below (actually 16ft deep) is straight out of a fairytale.
Accessible via a short walk, adventurous types can take in the full 3.1mile Breamish Valley trail instead.
Keep an eye out for the local red squirrels as you picnic in the sun-speckled glen by the water’s edge.
Blue Lagoon, Abereiddi, Pembrokeshire
If you can handle its icy waters, the Blue Lagoon on Pembrokeshire’s northwest coastline is one of the most dramatic spots for wild swimming.
Set below the towering rocky cliffs, the grey slate of the former quarry gives the pool its extraordinary dark turquoise colour, while its 25m depth makes it popular with daring cliff divers and watersports enthusiasts.
Now owned by the National Trust, parking is limited. There’s a wheelchair-accessible path, but no access to the pebble beach.
Frensham Great Pond, Farnham, Surrey
The two sandy bays of the shallow lake are often teeming with children in the holiday season so opt for an early morning dip or a term-time swim if you’re seeking tranquility.
Created in the Middle Ages to provide fish for the Bishop of Winchester’s estate and set amongst beautiful forest and open heathland, the 60-acre haven is abundant in wildlife, from reed buntings to skylarks overhead. There’s parking and a café on site.
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